When It’s Easter Week And You’re Short On Hope

I sat across from her. An 8:30 breakfast on Wednesday of Easter week. But we didn’t talk about weekend plans. Instead she tells me her story. A story no one should have. A son taken from her too soon. Despite all the prayers lifted up, despite all the attempts to save him, her baby gone from this earth and all she’s left with is an ache.girl-865304_1920

So everyone celebrates life this week while she breaks.

My stomach tightens, not from the chain-restaurant omelette, but from the knot of longing. I wanted to say I understand. But how can I? Who can understand such pain? I wanted to have some great words of comfort, but none came.

What do you say to a mother who lowered her son in a grave long before his time? What do you say when it seems the whole world is erupting with spring life and hers is cloaked in winter’s chill?

Nothing.

So I listen. And I pray. And I realize that her story is sadly not rare enough. I realize that all around me lie the ruins of brokenness. I realize that the journey through this world is one split by selfishness and greed and hatred and heartache. And too often, hopelessness.

And then I remember the story.

The one where Hope stepped onto the landscape of the world, took on its brokenness and stretched it out on a cross. The one where the sky split open and grace descended.cross-828894_1920

I don’t believe most stories. I think incredible stories are mostly just that—in-credible. And this one is most incredible of all. I mean who can absorb the notion that God would come to earth and pour Himself into flesh?

Not just flesh, but infant flesh. And that He grew into a divine man with the power to heal and to forgive? And then in that power He looked behind and ahead to all mankind—to me and to you—and saw each moment?

Each broken moment. Each unholy moment. Each gunshot fired. Each drug injected. Each harsh word or cold slap. Each tear shed. That He had the power to see my pain and my disease and my injustice and…my sin, and declare it wiped away?

Who could believe such a story?

But I believe this one.

Not because someone told it to me, although I’m glad they did. Not because of a Sunday school flannel board, although it was fun. And not even because I read it in an ancient document, although I now treasure that holy book.lamp-872946_1920I believe it because His story collided with my story and it became our story.

I believe it because there was a time when I couldn’t find my way through the senselessness of my broken road and all I had were whys. There was no making sense. There was only doubt and fear and a sense that I would never be okay again.

And then that story. A man who died on a cross, yet lived. A man who stretched out His arms and declared it finished, yet just beginning. He looked though the corridors of 2000 years and saw my tears and desperation and I saw Him. And it wasn’t just a story anymore. It was Hope and Resurrected Life.

It was God with me.

Emmanuel. God with us. Then and now. Reminding us that we are not alone.

And that this is not the forever world. But there is one waiting for us that needs no words to explain it or make it make sense. A world where a mother who walked this earth years past her prime stretches renewed arms out to her young son who never reached his in an embrace that knows no sorrow.mother-and-son-887058_1920

A world where there is no more death or grief or tears or pain. A world that makes sense of all that is and was.

A world that once only existed in my make-believe mind. But I’ve glimpsed it. I got a peak into that world during my deepest suffering. The curtain was pulled back and I knew. I knew the story was true. I knew that it was possible to live when everything else was dying.

My friend knows it too.

Our breakfast dishes had been cleared away and we sipped the last of our coffee through tears and through laughter. She knows the story. Heaven came down when her son was taken up.

She suffers. She longs. She questions. Yet she knows. She believes. This broken road ends in wholeness.church-750251_1920I hope you can believe that.

I hope you can take it all in despite how in-credible it sounds. The suffering, the heartache, the senselessness. It won’t always be so. It’s only part of this journey and it isn’t forever.

If something in you has died, if all hope is lost, I hope you will believe the story. I promise you, when you look through faith’s eyes, you see what can not be seen with your own. And you can find joy despite suffering, hope despite hopelessness, and life despite death.

I’ve created Hope For the Hard Places just for you, and I’d love for you to download it or share it in anyway you find helpful.

Please leave me a comment below and let me know if you believe the story. Or if you’re not sure. I’d love to have coffee with you sometime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Ideas for a Christ-Centered Easter

Samara helping Lyza with her Play-Doh creations.

Samara helping Lyza with her Play-Doh creations.

Easter is less than two weeks away. Now, I’m not one to shoot the Easter Bunny or declare that all things fun or yummy like egg hunts and jelly beans need to be banned (certainly not chocolate bunnies!). Still, I do want to be intentional to remind my children that Easter is about an empty tomb that once held Jesus, and to keep our activities focused on Him.

With so little time and even less creativity, I love it when those ultra-creative moms do some of the work for me. So, since I’m not one of those, I thought I’d round up some of their awesomeness and put it in one place. I hope you find some new ways to celebrate Easter this year and perhaps start some lifelong traditions.

TRADITIONS

Resurrection Eggs–There are all sorts of these, but these are my favorite for ages 5 and up.

Grace Garden–I absolutely love this one from Ann Voskamp at aholyexperience.com. Ann says, “So the kids and I, we put our hands into dirt, and we remember our garden fall and His garden grace.” Love it!

Fun Easter Story Cards For a Neighbor–I love these printables from the Happy Home Fairy. Fun for the whole family.

Family Service Jar–Another from the Happy Home Fairy and a great way to encourage kindness. Definitely going to be a new tradition for us.

ACTIVITIES, GAMES, AND CRAFTS

Easter Bingo–Telling the Easter story with symbols and a game for ages 4-7.

The Jesus Tree–There are all kinds of variations on this, but this is simple (Yay for me!) and has a Bible study to go along with it.

Resurrection Scavenger Hunt–My kiddos have always loved scavenger hunts, and this one is one for all ages.

Salt Dough Empty Tomb–A keeper and one we will do this week.

Printable Easter Coloring Pages–I’m a fan of everything from What’s In The Bible and these are no different. When you’re finished, you may just want to get a copy of Jesus is the Good News! to watch together.

Pop-Up Easter Scenes–For those of you who are beyond the coloring pages, these are awesome. I’m okay with just staying between the lines though.

Clothespin Donkey–Just in time for Palm Sunday, little crafters will love this.

Where Is Jesus Watercolor Magic–Always exciting to see the surprise in these.

RECIPES

Resurrection Cookies–Definitely not my favorite cookies, but the kids love them and I love the lessons they learn. Leigh Anne at Your Home Based Mom shows how simple they are.

Resurrection Buns–What kids don’t love these! Easy and fun!

No Bake Empty Tomb Treat–Made with donuts and Oreos. Enough said.

Crown of Thorn Cookies–Another awesome treat that’s simple and delish.

Lamb of God Cupcakes–Seriously, too cute.

Surprise Cross Cake–This is for the serious baker. I will not be making this one, but would be thrilled if any of you volunteered to make it for me. Amazing!

Cross Cake For the Rest of Us–An easier version that I’ve made for Easter dinner many times or at least until Samara threw up red velvet all over my nearly-white bedroom carpet. She hasn’t been able to look at red velvet cake since ;-).

BOOKS

Here’s a short list of some of my favorites. There are so many more, but these are the ones that you’ll never get tired of reading.

Benjamin’s Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs–We read this as we do the resurrection eggs.

The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale–One of my favorite children’s books ever, we read it anytime of the year.

The Thornbush–primarily for ages 4-8, but tells the story of shame and redemption through the eyes of a thorn bush.

Amon’s Adventure: A Family Story for Easter–This book for the whole family is a traditional read for us. Packed with excitement and great lessons, we get more from it each time we read it.

Well, there you have it–some great ideas from some great moms on the web. I hope you try a few this year, and bookmark this page to keep new ideas right at your fingertips next year. Until then, have an Easter full of the freedom and love of Jesus.

And please share some of your own ideas or pictures with me here or at our Mothers With a Mission Facebook group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Bunnies–Christ-Centered Easter Ideas for Families

Courtesy jannoon028 at freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy jannoon028 at freedigitalphotos.net

Is Easter early this year or am I just late? Somehow I missed the last month, the month I typically spend gathering craft supplies, reading great Easter stories, and searching for new creative ways to make Easter fun and fresh and most of all Christ-centered for my kids. I wanted to gather my favorites over the last 15 years and put them together for you here. I wanted to make it easy for you to make Easter special in your home, but somehow life got in the way. It does that sometimes. Maybe if I start now I’ll be ready next year :-).

Still, Easter is important to me. So, I’m going to do my best to carve out a few new memories between now and Sunday and maybe you can find a sliver of each day to join us.

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

We’ve been reading Amon’s Adventure A Family Story for Easter by Arnold Ytreeide, so we’ll continue reading a chapter a day and finish Easter night.

Amon

I love this author and all of his books. They are captivating stories that younger ones can enjoy and yet delve deeply into spiritual truths. We’ll finish ours Easter day, but it’s okay to start now and finish when you can.

Resurrection Eggs are a must in our home.

celebrate-easter-resurrection-eggs-800X800

I love this activity that can be used with or without the book, Benjamin’s Box by Melody Carlson. One by one, the eggs tell the events leading up to the crucifixion and it all ends with an empty “tomb”.

Here’s what we will hopefully get to:

Crafts, crafts and more crafts from http://www.orientaltrading.com. These are inexpensive to buy, but can also be used as ideas to make your own. We haven’t gotten to this yet, but we will by Sunday and my little girls will tell me how awesome I am.

Well that’s it this year. We haven’t done anything earth-shaking yet and likely won’t. We haven’t made a crown of thorns or constructed a giant lighted cross. We haven’t even made our annual tissue paper cross to hang in the window. Still, I’m sure my kids will survive an uneventful pre-Easter and we’ll all still love Jesus when it’s passed. In the end that’s what matters.

Jesus.

Just Jesus.

All the activity is fun, but if we make a crazy dash to create the perfect Easter but forget how to look like Jesus in the process then what have we accomplished but hollow religion? And who says we can’t have a cross cake and make resurrection cookies next month or any other time of the year?

Happy Easter dear sisters and may you find Him in all you do.